MTC Truck Driver Training St. Louis Graduate – Latonya Jones
It’s been more than a decade since Latonya Jones graduated with her CDL from MTC Truck Driver Training in St. Louis, Mo. She’s driven more than 400,000 safe miles since then, but still remembers the wisdom imparted to her in CDL School.
“I feel very blessed to have gone to MTC all those years ago,” she says. “Everyone was very nice and patient. I learned a lot. More than many of the other students at my first job. They didn’t go to MTC, and they struggled. I had my parking down and they couldn’t parallel park.”
When Latonya graduated, her hope was to work as a truck driver for 3 years. Nearly 11 years later she has reached what many drivers believe is the most coveted trucking job…driving for Walmart.
“I have driven for several companies over the years and two years ago got hired on with Walmart. This will be my final stop. It’s great!”
She says looking back on the early years of her career, she was caught up in chasing the money and probably skipped companies too often. “One thing I didn’t realize is that a lot of companies look poorly on drivers if they have worked for a lot of different companies. I was lucky that I kept my record clean and was a safe driver.”
Latonya’s tips for new drivers looking to score a high paying driving job are:
- Stay calm and go slow.
- Keep your driving record clean.
- Don’t abandon your equipment ever!
- Don’t skip jobs every year. Try to get 2 years of experience.
Latonya admits that the first few years can be tough especially for female drivers, but if you keep your record clean with two to three years’ experience, you can get hired pretty much anywhere you want.
“Getting a CDL has changed my life in so many ways. I grew up in St. Louis and it’s the only thing I knew. I was used to the people here and in my neighborhood. Now, as a truck driver, I get to experience new places and people. You get to see everything, and it changes your perspective. It’s a boost economically for sure. I thought I would just rent forever. I never thought I could buy a house. Now I am a home owner. It has really helped me to grow in so many ways.”
Latonya is very appreciative of the advice she received early on from her first trainer. They gave her some tips for staying safe on the road that she feels every female driver should follow. They include:
- Start your day early so that you have time to find a safe place to park and stop before it gets too dark.
- Always stay decent in your truck. You never know if someone is going to hit your truck or need you for something.
When we caught up with Latonya, she was taking a 30 minute break somewhere in New Mexico headed to Riverside, CA. The night before she was in Illinois. Latonya currently team drives with her husband, a 41-year trucking veteran. When they aren’t driving, they enjoy working on their house in Alabama. Latonya loves their new schedule of 6 days on and 3 days off. About every 90 days or so they take an extended break. She laughs that her husband could stay on the road all the time, but she is enjoying her new house.
“You can get a lot done in trucking,” she says. “But there are sacrifices and you must stick with it. But I can tell you it is worth it. You can really level up your life.”
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